As the Future Farmers of America awards banquet for the 2017-2018 school year began to wind down last week, one of the final speeches was delivered by the group’s seniors.
They recalled memories both funny and scary, although they can now laugh about the latter. They reminisced about the trips they took around the state and shared inside jokes. Tears were shed as they reveled in one of their final memories at Sealy High School.
As their final year as students at Sealy High School draws closer to an end with graduation on May 25, all Sealy seniors share in bittersweet moments of cherishing memories while moving on. Among those seniors, two have established themselves as top-of-the-class students not just for their work in the classroom but with extracurricular activities and the way they carry themselves.
Senior Jacob DeLozier was announced as the 2018 valedictorian and Matthias Litzmann the 2018 salutatorian. DeLozier said he was shocked when the news was first delivered to him but ultimately thrilled to finish his Sealy career with such an honor.
“[Principal] Megan Oliver called me into her office and told me the final results. I was ecstatic because I had been working for this goal for a long time. My mom was salutatorian, so I can now say I finished higher than she did,” he said with a laugh.
DeLozier said his family has been his main motivation throughout his entire academic career and he saw his accomplishments as a way to make them proud but also a way to thank them.
“They’ve supported me without question my entire life so I really just wanted to make sure that I pay them back for all that they’ve done because they deserve that,” he said. “To be able to have that recognized through an accomplishment like this is really something that means a lot to me.”
For Litzmann, the feeling that his Sealy career is over and he will soon be moving on to college has still not hit him and probably won’t until one particular moment happens.
“People keep congratulating me and asking me about how it feels but I honestly don’t think it’s going to hit me until I’m walking up to get my diploma and that’s when it’ll hit me that it’s all over,” Litzmann said. “I think the thing that I’m going to remember the most is the hard-working teachers, parents and classmates that I’ve had and how we’ve come together to help each other. Sealy really helped me feel like not just another number but part of a family and a bigger group.”
It was that type of support system that has inspired Litzmann to pursue psychology at Sam Houston State University. He said his experiences at Sealy High School have helped him narrow down what specific area of the field he wants to advance in.
“I eventually want to get my doctorate in psychology and go on to help young children and teenagers because I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to help people and I think this is the best way to go about it,” he said. “Some of my friends have had some really tough personal lives and just being there for them and giving them a shoulder to cry on has convinced me that I want to help out younger people.”
Litzmann said he could possibly be on an accelerated path toward achieving his degree and doctorate thanks to his work in Sealy.
“I talked to my college professor and if I do well with my AP tests this year then by the end of my first semester in college, I can be classified as a junior,” he said. “I was shocked when I heard that because I just did what I did by trying my hardest every time and to see it turn out to be this is just amazing.”
For DeLozier, he will be pursuing construction science at Texas A&M with law being his second interest if that doesn’t work out. He credited several teachers and programs at Sealy High School for helping him find his passion.
“I’ve always had an interest in architecture. Mr. Talley and Mrs. Trahan particularly encouraged my interest in architecture through teaching physics, geology, robotics, and art. DeLozier said, “Mr. Frank Moore, a family friend and graduate of A&M in construction science, also encouraged me in this field.”
As DeLozier, Litzmann and the rest of their senior class look toward the coming years as the next step in their lives, many have said they will take a special piece of home with them. Talking with different seniors, everyone has a different thing that they call a Sealy value.
“It’s just the way I was brought up because my family and really my grandma raised me right and they’re the entire reason I’m at where I am now,” senior Tyrek McNeese said when asked about how he could remain humble even with a state track gold medal in his hands. “I’m just one person and I don’t see any reason why I should be above someone else because I’m just me.”
DeLozier said the things he took as Sealy values are the reason that he wants to eventually come back to the community.
“When I think of Sealy values, I think of the compassion and understanding we have for each other. You really saw that when Hurricane Harvey hit - just the way we came together and helped our neighbors out. Sealy, as a whole, is known for helping other people,” DeLozier said. “Sealy doesn’t have the amenities of a big city but that community that we’ve formed is a big reason why I want to come back in the future.”
Litzmann said what he believes to be his greatest asset was something that was brought on to him by his friends and family in the community.
“I would say that no matter where you are, you should not let it affect you and you should try your best and work your hardest,: he said. “It’s you that matters the most and it’s whatever you want to do that matters. It’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned while I’ve been here.”
Overhearing all of the students’ suggestions, there was one school administrator, Gayle DeBerry, who said she felt there was a constant value all the students left unsaid.
“The amount of hard work these kids have put into their schoolwork is just incredible if it’s Jacob swearing off video games for six days a week in this technological world we’re living in, Matthias traveling to all these competitions or Kelsye Craft graduating while working multiple jobs,” she said. “They’ve all sacrificed so much to get where they are and it’s just something really special.”
DeLozier, Litzmann and their classmates will graduate on May 25 starting 8 p.m. at T.J. Mills Stadium. Balloons will not be allowed into the stadium.